Bart D. Ehrman - After the New Testament: The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers
The writings that make up the New Testament stand at the very foundation of Christianity. In these 27 books that represent the earliest surviving literary works of the young church, we have what eventually came to be regarded as sacred scripture, the canon of what was to become the most powerful and influential religion in the history of Western civilization.
But while Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the other books of the New Testament are known to almost everyone, the writings that Christians produced in the decades that followed these earliest compositions remain shrouded in virtual anonymityâeven though they are crucial to understanding the development of a religion that was shaped largely outside the pages of the New Testament itself.
As Professor Bart D. Ehrman points out, numerous doctrines that are familiar to Christians today, such as that of the Trinity, are not explicitly found in the New Testament. Neither are the church structures around which various Christian faiths, from Roman Catholic to Southern Baptist, are organized. And the ethical positions that form such a central part of Christian life today, such as those involving premarital sex or abortion, are likewise lacking in specific scriptural reference.